It is the mission of Drs. Kresie and Penzler to make sure every patient understands the disease and treatment of their eye disease. Research in macular degeneration is continually progressing and Drs. Kresie and Penzler are participating in seminars and conferences focusing on the most current treatment options and are happy to discuss these with their patients.

Is your cup half full or half empty?
The most important fact about AMD is that you will not go blind from this disease. That being said, AMD causes 46 percent of severe vision loss in people over the age of 40. However, there is good news. New treatments for certain cases of AMD have not only been successful in halting the progression of the disease, but actually improve vision.

What is AMD?
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a painless disease that gradually destroys sharp, central vision. Seeing objects clearly and daily tasks such as reading and driving become more difficult with AMD. Some cases of AMD develop so slowly over time that the patient does not notice their vision changing. In other cases, it develops much faster and quickly leads to vision loss in both eyes. However, even in advanced cases, patients are able to live and care for themselves independently.

Who gets it and why?
The number one risk factor is age. AMD affects less than 10 percent of people ages 43 to 54, but this figure more than triples for those who are aged 75 to 85. Ethnicity plays a role. Current research shows that Chinese Americans and Caucasians are at highest risk, while African Americans and Hispanics have a much lower risk. Smokers more than double their risk for this disease. Genetic studies do suggest a hereditary pattern. Other risk factors that are less conclusive include: hypertension, cardiovascular disease, sunlight exposure, alcohol use and hormonal status.

What are the newest treatments?
A mixture of vitamins C, E, beta-carotene, zinc and copper have been shown to reduce the rate of progression by 25 percent over the course of six years in some cases of AMD. Smoker should avoid any vitamin that includes beta-carotene as it may increase the risk of lung cancer. People with a family history of AMD or mild AMD are encourages to use a regular multivitamin while including fruits and deeply colored vegetables in their diets such as red peppers, spinach and kale.  For the latest updates regarding AREDS and supplements go here.

Treatment for “wet” AMD now includes injecting medications directly into the eye. These injections may be used alone or in combination with laser surgery. In the past, the prognosis for “wet” AMD was dismal. Today, there is a 90 percent chance of maintaining a patient’s vision and a 40 percent chance of improving the vision within days or months after these new treatments!

What can I do to protect my vision?
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends a dilated eye exam once every two years for people between the ages of 40 and 60, and yearly thereafter. This important exam will identify early signs of AMD. If you have been told you have early or mild macular degeneration, follow the above recommendations for vitamin therapy and use an Amsler grid weekly. This little rid isolates each eye so that any sudden change in vision can be detected and treatment initiated sooner for a more successful outcome.

Macular degeneration in many cases is a slowly progressive disease. Visual tasks such as reading or using the computer do not affect the progression of the disease. So celebrate the vision you have and keep reading!

For more information and to find out if you’re at risk for AMD or other eye diseases, go online and visit www.geteyesmart.org.